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Page last updated at 18:46 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 19:46 UK

Murray gets past tricky Santoro

By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Andy Murray
Murray will face Belgium's Xavier Malisse in round two

Andy Murray safely negotiated his opening match at Wimbledon, but not without some nervous moments against wily Frenchman Fabrice Santoro.

The British number one, seeded 12th, came through 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to set up a meeting with Xavier Malisse.

Santoro, 35, frequently bamboozled Murray with some devilish spin and forged a 4-2 lead in the second set.

However, Murray kept his cool and his greater power eventually told as he won in two hours and 11 minutes.

"To win in straight sets against someone with as much experience is a good start," Murray told BBC Sport.

"It was a really fun match. He hit some awesome shots, especially at the beginning, which got the atmosphere going.

"But once I settled down in the second set, I started to feel better about my game."

Murray was playing his first match on Centre Court for two years after missing last year's Championships through injury.

He showed few signs of nerves, rifling a backhand pass to earn his first break point in the third game before eventually sealing a 2-1 lead with a magnificent lob which completely deceived Santoro.

Murray dictates 'fun' first match

But the break did not prove decisive and Murray's habit of playing drop shots at inopportune moments returned to haunt him as one such effort allowed the Frenchman to level at 3-3.

Murray, though, remained admirably calm, rocking Santoro with some brutal returns to break twice more to snatch the set.

However, Santoro appeared determined to put on a show as he made his singles debut on Centre Court and the variety of shot on display from both players made for a hugely entertaining encounter.

The Frenchman ran back and hammered a backhand past a startled Murray to break immediately in the second set.

But once again Murray kept his patience, and the British supporters began to warm to a professional performance, punctuated with flashes of brilliance.

Having broken back to make it 4-4, Murray saw two set points come and go before another fabulous lob sealed a two-set lead.

Santoro dug deep to take the third set to a tiebreak but there was to be no nail-biting epic for the capacity crowd.

I told Fabrice it was an honour to play against him. He has always been one of my favourite players to watch

Andy Murray

A delicate cross-court volley to end a thrilling rally earned Murray a 4-3 lead and the Scot sealed victory on his third match point with a running backhand pass.

At the end of the match Murray took the crowd's applause before pointing to Santoro to ensure he got a good ovation.

"I told him it was an honour to play against him and he has always been one of my favourite players to watch."

606: DEBATE

Murray now faces Malisse on Thursday and added: "I practised with him a lot at Nick Bollettieri's and he is a very talented player. He is not playing as well as he did when he reached the semi-finals here but he plays very well on grass."

Santoro enjoyed the experience of his Centre Court debut despite the defeat.

"It was as good as I was thinking it would be," he said.

"The most special thing was the walk from the locker room to Centre Court. At that point you are conscious of what had happened here and who walked in this corridor in the last century.

"We played quite a good match even if it was straight sets. I played better than in the last few days when practising. I think I had chances in the second set but I didn't take them but when you are two sets down it is more and more difficult."




see also
Cool on Britannia
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Santoro v Murray as it happened
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Wimbledon day two photos
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Briton Eaton continues progress
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Becker sends Davydenko crashing
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Sharapova safely into round two
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis
Murray set for Wimbledon return
18 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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